Aiming their biggest guns at Android
Summary: A timely reminder of the importance of patent matters, for they are being used to eliminate the zero-cost advantage of Free/libre software and make it more proprietary, privacy-infringing, and user-hostile (as a result of blackmail)
WHILE pro-Apple sites keep bragging about new Apple patents (granted despite being monopolies on dumb or trivial ideas) there are many dozens of articles, such as [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] , about Apple’s latest assault and taxation of Android (nearly a billion dollars against just one Android backer). On the receiving end there is Samsung, which Microsoft blackmailed (using patent lawsuits) into including Microsoft's software/spyware, by default, in Android. Anyone who still considers Apple and/or Microsoft increasingly friendly towards Linux (or Android) is clearly not paying attention… or paying attention to proprietary software-leaning propaganda which calls extortion “licensing”, “settlement”, “agreement”, and so on. In the coming days we are going to refute a lot of patent propaganda in a rather long series of posts. █
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“In a world where there are $500 million dollar patent infringement lawsuits imposed on OS companies (although this is not completely settled yet), how would somebody like Red Hat compete when 6 months ago they only had $80-$90 million in cash? At that point they could not even afford to settle a fraction of a single judgment without devastating their shareholders. I suspect Microsoft may have 50 or more of these lawsuits in the queue. All of them are not asking for hundreds of millions, but most would be large enough to ruin anything but the largest companies. Red Hat did recently raise several hundred million which certainly gives them more staying power. Ultimately, I do not think any company except a few of the largest companies can offer any reasonable insulation to their customers from these types of judgments. You would need a market cap of more than a couple billion to just survive in the OS space.”
–SCO’s Strategic Consultant Mike Anderer
Summary: The corporate media and Web sites or people who are funded by large corporations have essentially suppressed any debate about issues in the patent granting process, thereby guarding software patents and preventing criticism of large corporations’ power grab
WE are deeply disturbed to see the already-elusive debate about patent scope getting lost in the noise, essentially drifting further away. This long post will put forth observations spanning almost 2 months in the English-speaking media.
Apple, which is patenting a lot software, even image editing software (according to Apple propaganda sites), “ramps up patent portfolio to take on Samsung,” to quote the ToryGraph (UK). Samsung is a backer of Android (albeit one that leans towards Microsoft) and it sells the most mobile phones, which run Linux at their core. So, Apple’s anti-Android (using software patents) agenda is very much relevant to the Free/Open Source software community. We have covered this for 5 years (Apple’s attacks on Android using software patents go back to 2010).
“Why does the corporate media not dedicate much space to cover the inherent issues which cause billions in damages to the technology sector?”Is Apple a patent troll? Well, it often behaves like one, but the media reserves the term “trolls” to small entities/actors. We are supposed to believe that Apple is some kind of heroic titan full of innovation, magic, sparkles and wonder, even though manufacturing for Apple is often done by other companies, including the underlying innovations (Samsung, other Korean/Japanese giants, and many Chinese companies make the components of ‘i’ devices).
Why does the corporate media not dedicate much space to cover the inherent issues which cause billions in damages to the technology sector? Why are corporate shakedowns by large corporations not newsworthy (or hardly worth covering)? These should be legitimate questions. Lies by omission are, by all means, lies.
The recent “John Oliver [segment] on patents [is] mostly just a critique of trivial patents and patent trolls but entertaining,” wrote one person among many who saw the HBO coverage. “I didn’t think it was all that funny anyway or maybe I don’t agree with the focus on trolls instead of patent scope,” wrote another person in response to my post. Even TechDirt said that John Oliver chose to focus on “Patent Trolls”. Since when is the patent issue simply reducible to “trolls”? What happened to the fierce debates over patent scope, as those which were of daily recurrence less than a decade ago? The problem of scope has not been addressed. It’s definitely not resolved.
One article that we found some time ago (a week back) portrayed the issue as “poorly written software patents”. To quote in full: “Congress is expected to take up legislation this year that would make it tougher to claim patent infringement.
“The bill has become a top lobbying priority this year for the tech industry, which says it repeatedly fends off frivolous lawsuits because of poorly written software patents and laws that favor patent holders.”
“There oughtn’t be patents on software in the first place.”The problem is software patents, not “poorly written software patents”. There oughtn’t be patents on software in the first place. They cost a lot of money and their toll on society would probably weigh at hundreds of billions of dollars (aggregated over the years worldwide).
Referring to the US-centric ITC, the British media recently shifted focus to patent trolls yet again. “US trade watchdog ITC needs reform to end $bn blackmail,” it said. What about software patents? Are they off topic now?
Consider press releases such as this one about how the USPTO “will grant RES Software two patents for its technological innovations Dynamic Rule Management and Taskbar Affinity.”
This is a couple of software patents. The USPTO is still granting those, despite changes following a SCOTUS ruling.
What was probably most frustrating this month would have to be Associated Press. It unleashed a lot of biased or narrow articles which lay virtually all blame on “trolls”. Consider this article [1, 2, 3]. The Associated Press (AP) set the tone for some widely-spreading AP reports [1, 2, 3] put only “Patent trolls” in the headlines. See for example the article “This year’s fight for the tech industry: Patent trolls”.
The Associated Press helped spread this kind of assumption under different headlines around the world [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and so did PBS/NPR (Bill Gates-funded), among other large news networks.
“What are politicians going to think? It’s like they are being lobbied by large corporations through the corporate media (often owned directly by those corporations).”Where is the focus on patent scope? What are politicians going to think? It’s like they are being lobbied by large corporations through the corporate media (often owned directly by those corporations).
The political debate has already been perturbed. Watch what Chuck Grassley says. We can see politicians only ever speaking about “trolls” (or “Abusive Patent Litigation” to use Grassley’s term). Consider this report titled “Dem senator looking to slow ‘patent troll’ debate”. To quote: “Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) is trying to end the rush to get a bill through Congress to rein in “patent trolls.”
“Judging by the speedy approval of the Innovation Act in the House last Congress, Coons said many members might not be in tune with the debate.”
They call it “Innovation Act”, but all it does is target trolls. It does nothing to or about innovation. It just helps large corporations push aside patent trolls, except themselves.
“Regarding the Innovation Act”, another article about this misleadingly-named bill, says: “As a student at the University of Minnesota, one of the top research universities in the nation, I am greatly concerned with the proposed legislation dealing with patent reform. I agree there is a need to cut down on abusive patent practices under the current law by so-called “patent trolls.” However, current legislation in Congress is too broad in addressing this problem. The unintended consequences of the Innovation Act are too great to ignore.”
Well, that is not the issue. The analysis above, courtesy of a student, is too shallow and does little to actually show what’s wrong with the so-called ‘Innovation Act’. the “Innovation Act” as they call it is just a wishlist of large corporations. That’s not to say that patent trolls are not a problem at all; they’re mostly a symptom of a much larger problem. What the “Innovation Act” would do is tackle only some actors while leaving large corporations exempt from reform. Rather than call it “Innovation Act” we should call it “The Large Corporations’ Act”.
“532,900,000 Reasons Why We Need Patent Reform Now” is the headline from TechDirt in which a ruling about software patents (or relating to software patents) gets mentioned. TechDirt writes: “Over the last year, there’s been plenty of good news in the fight against the abuse of patents to stifle innovation. A bunch of court rulings have gone the right way, with the biggest being the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Alice v. CLS Bank case, that has resulted in many courts invalidating patents, the US Patent Office suddenly rejecting more patents and a rapid decline in patent lawsuits.”
“A real reform would tackle the patents, not the actors who use them.”A real reform would tackle the patents, not the actors who use them. Many of these actors are parasites, but one can generalise the means, not the ends.
“Conservatives and Patent Reform,” an article by Gary Shapiro, alludes to the above and says: “A serious case can be made that they should reconsider their opposition.”
With or without a bogus bill that does little or nothing to tackle the core issue we will all remain between a rock and a hard place. The problem of “trolls” is being overly exaggerated (not dealing with the patents they so often use) in stories like ““Shopping cart” patent troll shamelessly keeps litigating, and losing”. Corporate media pundits like Bill Snyder also play a role in the misdirection, with articles like “Patent trolls are on the run, but not vanquished yet” or “Why Congress must ensure ‘game over’ for patent trolls” (from The Hill).
It sure looks like the corporations hijacked the debate, it’s all about “trolls” now. Debate over patents must focus on patent scope, yet all the large corporations want us to obsess over trolls (smaller trolls than them). “The FTC should release an interim report to help patent reform,” said this other headline from The Hill and on the third of April we learned from this site that “Conservatives wrong to oppose patent reform” (the bogus reform, not the reform that is actually needed).
In the Web sites of patent lawyers we learn of “Two signs that patent reform momentum may be slowing” and get told the typical myth of “Startups and Patents”. Patents are protectionism for large corporations and only a waste of time and money for startups, which can usually not sue large corporations because it would get them sued back, using a much larger heap of patents from these large corporations.
A recent article by Glyn Moody was titled “Does Patent Licensing by Patent Trolls – Or Anyone – Serve A Useful Purpose?”
Moody alludes to a “paper [which] also provides yet more evidence that the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, designed to encourage the commercialization of research results through licensing, actually turns universities into patent trolls — something that Techdirt has discussed before. Although the authors suggest that further research is needed to confirm their results, it already seems pretty clear that both patent trolls and Bayh-Dole need to go.”
“When some nonsense like “Innovation Act” says it targets “trolls” what it actually means to say is that it targets small entities with no real products. These are a nuisance to large corporations because the corporations cannot sue back (there are no products to sue over).”Yes, universities too can act like patent trolls, not just large corporations do. When some nonsense like “Innovation Act” says it targets “trolls” what it actually means to say is that it targets small entities with no real products. These are a nuisance to large corporations because the corporations cannot sue back (there are no products to sue over).
There was recently some discussion about the case of Life360, including the ‘Dear Piece of Shit’ letter. “Fresh off his patent win against a company called AGIS,” said one trolls expert, “Life360 CEO Chris Hulls has published an op-ed advising other companies on how to respond to similar patent threats.” Here is more from the same expert: “In May 2014, Life360 CEO Chris Hulls received an aggressive patent demand letter. The letter, from lawyers representing a company called Advanced Ground Information Systems (AGIS), told him he needed to pay for a “royalty-bearing license” to its four patents, or Life360 and its customers would have to “cease and desist” from infringement.
“In other words: pay up, or shut down your company.”
In the case of large corporations it would be “pay up, or we’ll block imports.” It can also be “pay up, reduce your revenue/increase running costs, pass costs to your customers”.
How is that different from what Apple is doing? How is that different from Microsoft’s patent extortion? It’s only semantics and labels (“trolls”), revolving around either scale or branding. The debate has been littered with propaganda, so a lot of people have been systematically incited against “trolls” while ignoring the broader picture.
Over a month ago there was a large online argument over trolls because “Patent trolls serve valuable role in innovation, Stanford expert says”. Defending patent trolls is not unthinkable, especially from universities where trolling has become a common practice (we have covered some examples over the years). Stanford staff, some allege, was probably paid to say that or has some conflict of interest. But we suspect the cause of this stance is different. This whole “Stanford” story (it was framed as a Stanford thing, despite involving just one person) led to some strong responses from ‘anti-trolls’ (and trolls only) sites [1, 2, 3], with one arguing that proof is required. To give some background to this (quoting the above): “So-called patent trolls may actually benefit inventors and the innovation economy, according to a Stanford intellectual property expert.
“Stephen Haber, a Stanford political science professor, suggests in new research that concerns about too much litigation involving patents is misguided.”
“There’s almost a refusal to return to talking about patent scope.”The obsession over patent trolls is what bothers us the most, not the stance — however dumb — of Stephen Haber. There’s almost a refusal to return to talking about patent scope. One site that focuses on trolls (“Patent Progress”) lobbies hard for the “Innovation Act”, stating in one of its headlines: “If the Innovation Act Is Bad For Patents, Why Do Large Patent Owners Support It?”
Those “Large Patent Owners” are large corporations, such as those which are funding “Patent Progress” (through CCIA). Watch the tone of recent posts. It’s like lobbying on behalf of large corporations. Another post says “Professor Stephen Haber of Stanford recently came out with a paper that, according to him, “suggests in new research that concerns about too much litigation involving patents is misguided.”
Well, the real issue is too much patent granting, not too much litigation, which usually is simply the result of too much patent granting. Tackle patent scope, not scale of plaintiffs.
Here is a recent “I.P. Scholars’ Letter to Congress re Patent Reform”. “This open letter to Congress,” says the abstract, “signed by 51 economics and legal scholars, responds to claims that there is little empirical evidence available to assess the performance of the American patent system. The letter explains that a large and increasing body of evidence indicates that the net effect of patent litigation is to raise the cost of innovation and inhibit technological progress. The letter also includes a bibliography of relevant empirical studies of patent litigation.”
Why focus on patent litigation and not the scope of patents foolishly being granted by the USPTO?
Covering patents have become frustrating in the sense that mega-corporations keep distracting from the real debate(s), lobbying for laws that instead protect only themselves. A lot of blogs that proclaim to be speaking for patent reform are actually tools of large corporations that fund them. Pseudo activism (lobbying) is when you’d be led to believe that you’re reading from real activists while in reality they’re tools of corporate power. The academics (non-’IP’ academics, i.e. not boosters of the parasitic elements) want software patents and other software patents to end, but corporations want to demolish only their own competition and rivals, thus they focus on ‘trolls’ and the corporate media helps them achieve this.
“Well, the real issue is too much patent granting, not too much litigation, which usually is simply the result of too much patent granting.”The EFF, a relatively independent (from corporations) activism group, now says it is “Fighting for Patent Reform in Washington, D.C.”. Having just tackled the infamous podcasting patent as part of a broader new action to take on software patents, the EFF receives a lot of positive publicity [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18]. Can real change come about this way? Is the EFF influential enough?
There is currently another piece of useless ‘reform’, but nothing is as bad as the America Invents Act, which we wrote about before. “Using the new Post Grant Review and Inter Partes Review procedures in the America Invents Act,” Steph writes, “hedge funds are extorting money from pharmaceutical companies by either filing or threatening to file for re-exam.”
When it comes to pharmaceutical patents, there is no lack of articles about “trolls”, including pro-trolls articles. There are anti-reform lawyers writing about it because to patent lawyers the trolling can be good business; their main concern is that it harms the legitimacy of the system through which they prey on real (producing) workers, acting more like parasites than scientists or even lawyers. █
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Summary: Microsoft’s obscene double-standards leave Android and Linux between a rock and a hard place
IS IT true that Microsoft loves Linux? What a silly question, but some people and even GNU/Linux vendors actually entertain the possibility that Microsoft loves GNU/Linux, even in the face of heavy and overwhelming contradictory evidence (we gave plenty of evidence to the contrary on Saturday, in a 6-part “Microsoft Hates Linux” series).
As Zacks put it earlier today, “Microsoft has come up with a way for Android users to install a Windows 10-based ROM on Android devices that would take them over and offer Windows-based software offerings (Cortana, Office and Skype).”
For Microsoft, wiping Android from inside Android is "OK", but wiping Windows is not allowed or even possible in some cases. Microsoft actively works to prevent it. As this new article reminds us, “Microsoft tightens Windows 10′s Secure Boot screws” to prevent GNU/Linux from booting (let alone being installed). There are borderline apologists of this — those who try to spin that as “good news” because people can now avoid such machines or buy GNU/Linux preinstalled instead. Either way, Microsoft has made life very hard for GNU/Linux users and one comment I received earlier today said: “I want to buy the hardware I like and I want to install the software I like onto it. Why is there a company (read: a devil) who decides what my options are? Why aren’t there any independent hardware builders? So the Linux community is depending on the mood of angry corporations?”
Well, Microsoft is now relying on vendors to help it reduce options and prevent people from exercising real choice. It’s like an assault by proxy — one to which antitrust laws apply. There is patent blackmail in the mix, as Microsoft coerces vendors into betraying their customers, at legal gunpoint.
Bridget Carey from CNET (part of CBS) said that “Microsoft is getting friendly with Android.”
Apparently then, patent extortion and bribes is “friendly”. We are very much annoyed to see Microsoft-friendly media (paid by Microsoft) characterising extortion and bribes as Microsoft “getting friendly” or “playing nicer” with Android. It’s a massive lie. There is also no mention of what Microsoft is really up to in the article “Microsoft’s Android and iOS assault”. It mentions nothing about coercion using patent extortion. Microsoft decided to sue over software patents (mere claims) with their lawyers (e.g. against Samsung), that’s how they strike so-called “deals” for “select Android devices”. Tools of blackmail are not about “deals” but about abuse. Three years ago Pegatron was extorted by Microsoft, so no wonder it too got ‘co-opted’. Pegatron, Samsung and so on (even the Microsoft-connected Dell) are not surprising members of this blackmail-driven ‘pact’; Microsoft likes to target large distributors of Android using lawsuits. It’s Microsoft’s new strategy, there is no newly-found love.
Then there is the Cyanogen case, which nicely shows how Microsoft works by proxy. The Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal misleads on Google ‘antitrust’ while Murdoch himself now openly invests in this anti-Google and pro-Microsoft company called Cyanogen. We wrote about it earlier this week. There is a new article titled “Why people are wrong about the world needing an Android that Google can’t control” and what it fails to mention is that Cyanogen sells Android users to Microsoft. That’s the business model. Cyanogen is now a tool of Microsoft and this article says that “[a]ccording to sources familiar with the matter, future devices taking advantage of Cyanogen OS might actually ship out with Microsoft Bing and Office apps instead of Google Search Drive.”
eWeek has got a misleading series of articles right now. One is titled “Cyanogen Aspires to Become Open-Source Android Alternative to Google”. Well, preinstalling Microsoft’s proprietary software is not “Open-Source Android Alternative to Google” but a proprietary alternative to Android. Todd Weiss, writing another article for eWeek, is also wrong. The headline says “Android Open-Source Vendor Cyanogen Veers Off Google’s Android Path”. However, Cyanogen is not “Android Open-Source Vendor” but a Microsoft tool replacing FOSS (for the most part) with Microsoft proprietary software which sucks up data (documents, audio, etc.) to be relayed to the NSA.
In our IRC channels MinceR wrote that “Cyanogen shows its true colors as yet another front for Microsoft,” citing this article. The goal is to destroy Android and to make it another Windows. Microsoft will try to make it less visible by changing the terms of financing, keeping Cyanogen at a short distance to save face. Microsoft is now paying them handsomely but secretly, as an applications (via OEMs) partner rather than an investor. Here at Techrights we wrote about 4 articles about it in the past 1.5 weeks alone and prior to that we warned about Cyanogen for its proprietary software agenda, which is also apathetic towards privacy. Cyanogen has nothing to do with control, privacy, freedom etc.; it just tries to turn Android into Windows in exchange for cash. Bill Gates’ friend Rupert Murdoch now funds it personally and Microsoft was going to fund it too before Murdoch’s media published an exclusive article about it, drawing criticism rather than glee.
Mark said that Cyanogen is “a colorless, toxic gas,” according to Wikipedia. “Cyanogen is a highly toxic compound” “Lethal dose through inhalation typically ranges from 100 to 150 mg. [...] cyanogen is very toxic, as it readily undergoes reduction to cyanide, which poisons the cytochrome c oxidase complex, thus interrupting the mitochondrial electron transfer chain” (see Wikipedia for more).
“Why in the world,” remarked Mark, “would anyone name their software product after a deadly poison? Perhaps their subconscious mind is warning people.”
In part 6 of our "Microsoft Hates Linux" series we wrote about Microsoft’s manipulation of the press, which causes proprietary software from Microsoft to be characterised as “open”. Even Linux Magazine fell for it; it’s part of the effort to paint Visual Studio “open”, “free”, or whatever.
India’s Government, as we mentioned at the time, currently formulates policy on adoption of open source software (several more articles are appearing right now to cover this right now) and that’s why Microsoft pretends to be “Open Source”. It doesn’t want to be left excluded, so it needs to pretend to be part of the Open Source crowd. It’s achieved by means of hijack/capture/infiltration and unless the public antagonises this, Microsoft will get its way. █
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Summary: Microsoft’s Android coup d’état is succeeding owing to public apathy and poor comprehension of what Microsoft really is up to, partly due to media misdirection
Promoters of Microsoft try to tell us that Android backers are now turning to Microsoft, but what they don't talk about are the extortion, bribes and back room deals. This new article from Neil McAllister is belittling (by not even mentioning) the role of blackmail in the case of Samsung, the clear leader in the Android world (based on market share). McAllister says that “Microsoft, still struggling to gain a foothold in the smartphone market, is pressing ahead with efforts to have its software bundled on Android devices from major manufacturers, with Samsung as its first partner.” This is a classic lie by omission and we have seen it almost everywhere we looked on the Internet (presumably it’s the same in the press).
What’s rather troubling is that with more patent lawsuits (Microsoft is still suing Android/Linux using software patents) Microsoft might have more such 'partners' (extorted parties) on the way, not to mention bribed ‘partners’ [1, 2]. Cyanogen got caught opening up to money from Microsoft because they got coverage from Rupert Murdoch-owned media (Wall Street Journal) and interestingly enough it is now Rupert Murdoch who provides funds to this company which turns Android into ‘Microsoft Android’ (Microsoft software pre-loaded). It isn’t too shocking given Rupert Murdoch’s close relations with Microsoft and with Bill Gates, let aside his hatred of Google.
According to this report, Cyanogen “has secured $80m (£54m) in funding from the likes of Twitter, Telefonica and the media mogul Rupert Murdoch.” CBS says “Cyanogen raised $80 million in a series C round of funding led by venture-capital firm Premji Invest, the company announced on Monday. Twitter’s private-investment arm, Twitter Ventures, as well as Qualcomm, and even media bigwig Rupert Murdoch participated in the funding round. In total, Cyanogen has raised $110 million since 2009.”
As we pointed out even years ago, Cyanogen is neither about freedom nor privacy. At the moment it’s about pre-loading Microsoft software (surveillance-centric) from Microsoft. It’s not hard to see whose interests are being served by Cyanogen. █
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Microsoft loves [to hijack and repurpose] Linux
Defections at gunpoint
Summary: A strategy involving harassment and bribes drives large Android players into Microsoft’s arms (PRISM and lock-in), much to Google’s (and users’) detriment and beyond regulators’ range of visibility
LAST month we said that Microsoft was reportedly using patent blackmail to pressure Samsung into becoming a Microsoft peon. We were later proven right and Microsoft’s booster (one of very many who now work for CBS) Mary Jo Foley put a positive spin on it, as if it was all kisses and roses. She continues doing that in her latest puff piece (framing that as nothing nefarious) where she says that “Samsung announced last month it would preinstall OneNote, OneDrive and Skype on the Glaxy S6 and S6 Edge. In the coming months — some time in the first half of calendar 2015, Samsung also will preinstall Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype on “select” Samsung Android tablets, Samsung announced today.”
Mary Jo Foley does not mention the patent case and settlement, does she? That would upset Microsoft, which is too busy portraying itself as a friend of Linux while it is suing Linux (using software patents).
Following Microsoft’s support for Cyanogen (again, do not be misled by retractions after getting caught) Microsoft’s booster writes that “[i]f the rumor mill is right, Android distribution startup Cyanogen might be next up to forge a similar bundling relationship with Microsoft. A recent Forbes report claims Cyanogen is “close to finalizing a wide-ranging partnership to incorporate several of Microsoft’s mobile services, including Bing, the voice-powered Cortana digital assistant, the OneDrive cloud-storage system, Skype and Outlook, into Cyanogen’s devices.”
Microsoft’s booster also mentions Dell. How convenient. Our Dell wiki pages would help remind readers what Microsoft has done to Dell not only on the Android front but on other fronts too. Dell is nothing but a vassal of Microsoft right now.
We expect the next step to be use of patent extortion to force more Android backers into Microsoft's bed. Don’t expect Mary Jo Foley and fellow Microsoft spinners to tell the whole story. Lies by omission may be the strategy.
Microsoft loves Linux like a shark loves fish. █
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Samsung at risk of climbing back into Microsoft’s bed
Summary: Microsoft is reportedly pressuring Samsung, by means of expensive patent lawsuits, to turn Android into “Microsoft Android” (Microsoft spyware installed by default)
THE clown called Microsoft, which claims to “love Linux”, is still attacking Linux in a big way. Usually this is done more or less covertly, so enough “useful idiots” won’t see it and even defend Microsoft.
The other day we saw Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols addressing Microsoft's attack on Android through Cyanogen. Microsoft wants the world to believe that it ‘owns’ part of Android as it even claims to be ‘licensing’ Android, despite having nothing to do with Android development. Microsoft actively attacks Android from multiple directions and as Vaughan-Nichols put it:
The only thing that makes me take Cyanogen’s plans seriously is that Amazon and Microsoft appear to be looking into investing in Cyanogen to help create an Android software eco-system that’s not under Google’s control. But, honestly, even if Amazon and Microsoft backed Cyanogen to the hilt, would that really matter?
Both companies have tried, and failed, to produce a popular smartphone. Indeed, Amazon’s Fire smartphone lost approximately $170 million.
As for Cyanogen, its most well-known efforts to contract with phone vendors ended up with Indian phone giant Micromax and Chinese company Shenzhen OnePlus Technology locked in a lawsuit in the Indian courts. McMaster also made no friends for Cyanogen when he declared that “Samsung couldn’t build a good OS if they tried.” Since Samsung is the world’s number one Android phone vendor and Kondik’s former employer, this doesn’t strike me as a way to win sales partners and influence carriers.
Only Microsoft with Windows Phone has seen even 2 percent of the mobile market. That’s not enough. Even Windows Phone fans, given the lack of support for the platform from carriers like Verizon, have given up on Windows Phone. Major companies, including Chase and Bank of America, are also no longer supporting Windows Phone.
Cyanogen will fail just like similar attempts at disrupting Android at Microsoft’s behalf. But it doesn’t make the above any less harmful.
Samsung, based on some sources, is again leaning to Microsoft, which may blackmailing the Android leader (in terms of market share) into the agenda of “Microsoft Android” (extortion by Microsoft so as to get its way, as usual).
Engadget, for instance, wrote that “[q]uite a few smartphone fans will tell you that a Samsung phone’s Achilles’ heel is its software — you’ll find a ton of (frequently unwanted) apps and features that do little besides chew up space and slow things down. You may get to wave goodbye to that cruft when the Galaxy S6 shows up, however. A SamMobile source claims that Samsung is yanking a lot of its usual pre-installed bloatware, making the GS6 “amazingly fast” compared to a weighed-down phone like the Galaxy Note 4. The titles wouldn’t go away forever, but you’d have to download in-house apps if you did want them. Instead, the focus would be on a host of included Microsoft apps: Office, OneDrive, OneNote and Skype would give you some solid productivity out of the box. It’s not clear if the Microsoft deal has any connection to a recent truce with Samsung over patent royalties, although it wouldn’t be surprising.”
Samsung was the first devices company that publicly subscribed/signed up for Microsoft’s patent attack on Linux in 2007, so we wouldn’t be shocked if Samsung indeed decided to play ball for Microsoft, much as Nokia and Facebook had attempted (both Microsoft-owned, at least in part). █
Update: Mary Jo Foley is Distorting or Making Up ‘Facts’ About Microsoft’s Patent Attack on Android/Linux
An article by Paul Hill, linking to this widely-cited article, says that Microsoft is trying to hijack Android. He writes the following: “It looks like the two companies settled under the condition that Samsung will pre-load Microsoft’s apps on their Android devices.
“It’s likely that the next Samsung flagship smartphone will squarely try to appeal to corporate users as Samsung is already extremely popular with casual users. The device is expected to be launched on March 1st at Samsung’s annual ‘Unpacked’ event at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona alongside the Galaxy S Edge, an offering with curved edges that look as though they may give quick access to apps, but for obvious reasons, this isn’t clear.”
It has been clear that Microsoft would try hard to make Android users dependent on OOXML and other Microsoft traps, but ZDNet, which is owned by CBS, continues to distort some facts and we must respond to that. The company’s Microsoft booster (one of many) Mary Jo Foley promotes the infiltration by saying that “SamMobile claims the Galaxy S6 will remove pre-installed Samsung apps like S Voice, S Health, S Note and Scrapbook. These will be replaced by Microsoft apps like OneDrive, OneNote, the new standalone Office mobile apps and Skype.”
Putting aside the crucial observation that this is not yet confirmed (see context above and bear in mind that SamMobile is scarcely known and hasn’t acquired reputation), she adds some nonsense to it all by not introducing the full history of Microsoft and Samsung, including that old patent deal which apparently was more to do with FAT than anything else. ZDNet posts a summary  linking to the booster’s  biased claims that add to the unsubstantiated smear, repeating the lie that has Microsoft portrayed as making billions out of Android, despite there being no concrete evidence (it’s most likely that scaring OEMs is the goal). Given the patterns of Microsoft propaganda in ZDNet, we are not too shocked to see this. We do need to respond to these perceptions that are propagated to damage Android/Linux. These perceptions are mostly created and spread by sources that are aligned with Microsoft, as we’ve demonstrated in past years.
Related/contextual items from the news:
The suit against Samsung over royalty payments for Microsoft’s patents has been settled. It involved payments to Microsoft that Samsung had stopped paying due to claims that the former’s purchase of Nokia’s handset business was a breach of the royalty agreement.
Neither company disclosed terms of the settlement.
Samsung is one of about two dozen companies selling Android, Chrome OS and/or Linux devices that are paying patent-royalty licensing fees to Microsoft.
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Summary: Microsoft is spreading the myth that Android is not free (and is in fact very expensive) while its staff and boosters continue to deceive the public in other ways
ANYTHING that is repeated often enough, especially by seemingly credible news networks, may in turn be treated as truth without much further scrutiny. Microsoft is an expert at doing that. We gave dozens of examples over the years. This is sometimes known as “reality distortion”.
Claims about Microsoft profit from Android are overstated and often reliant on just a single person (with Microsoft ties) along with folks who repeat his claims (usually Microsoft boosters). Even some FOSS-friendly sites like Muktware got bamboozled, whereupon we explained to them that this is just another divide-and-rule approach, much like Novell’s. Microsoft wants the industry to believe that GNU/Linux (or Android) is not free and that any company that sells devices with GNU/Linux will be punished severely by Microsoft. Behind the NDAs and behind the illegal extortion there is often lots of smoke but not fire. Microsoft may charge a few cents for something like FAT patents and then issue a face-saving press release (imposed on the victim) to pretend there was some massive patent deal that taxes “Linux”. For “Android” it’s usually something like Microsoft Exchange (ActiveSync). We spoke about this with OIN’s CEO, so we say this based on a professional opinion from one whose livelihood depends on it and one who knows what happens ‘behind the scenes’, so to speak.
“Microsoft may charge a few cents for something like FAT patents and then issue a face-saving press release (imposed on the victim) to pretend there was some massive patent deal that taxes “Linux”.”Yesterday we found an ugly piece that’s basically a Microsoft propaganda piece. It’s basically propaganda from Microsoft’s ‘former’ chief patent counsel. The crudest pro-software patents site (IAM) quotes the biggest patent troll in the world, Microsoft (by extension), as saying that “US has not come close to abandoning software patents”. That’s a straw man; nobody said that the USPTO (or the US) is “abandoning software patents”. It just gradually cuts down, both at the examination level and at the court level. Evidence of this is very extensive. It just seems like Microsoft is afraid of losing its last remaining ‘product’: patent racketeering.
There is currently an ugly whisper campaign in the corporate media. It claims that Samsung paid Microsoft a billion dollars for Android. It’s simply untrue. Thankfully, Swapnil Bhartiya has already written a strong rebuttal. He says that “some news outfits are projecting it as if Samsung paid Microsoft $1 billion solely for Android patents. Some headlines go like these – “Lawsuit reveals Samsung paid Microsoft $1 billion a year for Android patents” or “Samsung paid Microsoft $1 billion in Android patent-licensing royalties in 2013″. These claims start and end with the headlines, you won’t find a single mention of ‘Samsung paying Microsoft $1 billion for Android patents’ in any of those stories.
“Organizations like BloomBerg and ReCode are refraining from such misleading headlines. The court filing is available publicly which you can read on Scribd. Microsoft says in the document that Samsung paid Microsoft $1 billion in second financial year of their patent deal. From what I understand that is *the* total amount Samsung paid Microsoft under the deal. What we don’t know is what all is covered in these patents. The court document doesn’t specifically says that ‘Samsung paid Microsoft $1 billion for Android patents.’
“I didn’t find a single sentence making such a claim. Please correct me if I am wrong, I would appreciate that.”
Bhartiya correctly dubs this a “PR stunt” and he explains why: “It seems to be nothing more than a PR stunt. Every-time someone creates such a headline, Microsoft scores a PR point. Microsoft drops the keywords Android, Chrome and Linux every-time it signs a deal with a company even if the deal is about using ancient technologies such as FAT 32 in devices running Linux.
“We never heard of any other deal between the two companies (Samsung and Microsoft) so it can be logically concluded that the deal also covers the use of Microsoft technologies in non-Android or non-Chrome devices such as point-and-shoot cameras, DSLRs, music players, photo-frames, BD/DVD players, TV sets and dozen of other things that Samsung sells.
“Those crisp $1 billion bills are not just for the Android powered devices, right? Samsung does a lot of thing, in 2013 the company raked in over $54.95 billion in revenues. Only half of that revenue came from the IT and mobile division.”
Finally, adds Bhartiya: “It’s not a one way traffic. Microsoft also pays Samsung annual royalty for using Samsung’s patented technologies and this amount it credited against the amount Samsung pays to Microsoft.”
Yes, this is an old trick. Microsoft still uses it to flood the press with lies (or half-truths), which its booster are just too happy to spread. It’s like a tumbleweed of lies and it gathers momentum. Soon enough the lies become the equivalent of a reality; it’s an attempt to induce surrender. It’s an attempt at self-fulfilling prophecies. The time seemed right for Microsoft because it fights with Samsung in the courtroom. Microsoft knows it might lose and the defendant is the biggest possible target because Samsung sells the lion’s share of Android-powered phones.
The Microsoft booster Gavin Clarke is meanwhile warning that trolls may try to attack OpenStack. He uses OIN as a source:
A group established to shield Linux from patent trolls has warned OpenStack will be the next big target for intellectual property hoarders.
The Open Invention Network (OIN) reckons the open-source cloud is ripe for the plucking by trolls, who would easily be able to box off and claim core technologies as their own.
That would see developers and customers using OpenStack forced to hand over fistfuls of cash in royalties – following either cases or, more likely, closed-door deals that avoid the expense of court.
This may be a legitimised concern, but Clarke does not name Microsoft’s own behaviour. By these standards, Microsoft too is a troll, not just by proxy. In fact, Microsoft is perhaps the biggest threat here.
As a side note, Techrights is under DDOS attack )since yesterday). The attacks are all coming from Windows NT (various versions) machines and they are hammering on the site, sometimes to the point where the site is no longer available. This seems to have spread from Tux Machines, so these attacks are clearly personal. This was done to us also 5 years ago (see the report “Burying the truth? Boycott Novell hit by Denial of Service attack”). █
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A plot to shun Free software
Summary: Microsoft-linked and Linux-hostile trolls continue their relentless attacks (albeit with little or no success) while patents as a weapon lose their teeth owing to a Supreme Court ruling
Microsoft’s cofounder is now a patent troll and his trolling activity resumes in the US. As Reuters very recently put it: “A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday revived part of a patent lawsuit brought by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen against AOL, Apple, Google and Yahoo, saying a lower court incorrectly found that the tech companies didn’t infringe one of its patents.
“The patent, held by Allen’s Interval Licensing, relates to the ubiquitous pop-ups that computer users routinely see while surfing the Web or shopping online.
“The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said that Chief Judge Marsha Pechman of the federal district court in Seattle had made an “erroneous” interpretation of the patent in 2013 and it sent the case back to her for further hearings.”
Allen has also targeted Android and Microsoft produces patent trolls other than Allen (IV, Interval, Gates et al.) who tend to target Free software and Microsoft rivals such as Google.
Recently we saw Microsoft and Apple collaborating in their patent attacks on Linux-using rivals. Microsoft sued Samsung some weeks ago, following Apple’s footsteps that led almost nowhere. “Apple denied retrial of Samsung patent case in California” based on IDG, which also says that “Apple’s slide-to-unlock patent not willfully infringed by Samsung, judge rules”.
The good news is that software patents are now dying in the US. Along with them the trolls are dying (ignore highly deceiving press releases from VirnetX, which is collapsing at the moment). The killing of trolls is a trend that was noted also by Simon Phipps (OSI President) the other day when he wrote:
Alice is killing the trolls — but expect patent lawyers to strike back
Open source software developers rejoice: Alice Corp. v CLS Bank is fast becoming a landmark decision for patent cases in the United States.
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles all appeals for patent cases in the United States, has often been criticized for its handling of these cases — Techdirt describes it as “the rogue patent court, captured by the patent bar.” But following the Alice decision, the Court of Appeals seems to have changed.
The Court of Appeals will be the subject of our next post. █
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